Doolin/Galway

I heard another couple come in the front door of the B&B, thump down the hall, have a conversation, and my last thought before I drifted off to sleep in that echo-y loud no-privacy B&B was, “Please, God, don’t let them have sex. We’ll hear it ALL and I just can’t take that.”

The night passed uneventfully and to my knowledge, no sex was had. Woney and I packed up our suitcases after another traditional Irish breakfast, complete with toast, and headed into Doolin proper. It was a 2.5 minute drive and that’s only because the road narrowed to a single lane and we had to wait for a car to first pass over the bridge.

We’d heard that an Island tour existed, that you could see the Cliffs of Moher from a boat, and I’ll tell you, the heat was such that a windy cruise was of great interest to us. I was sweating buckets and it was barely 9:00 a.m. I desperately wanted to walk the Cliffs, to hike them the old fashioned way but the cruise was cheap enough and enticing enough that we pushed the walking off until later. Woney and I purchased our tickets and then went shopping to amuse ourselves until the boat departed.

Y’all, I use the term “shopping” loosely. There were perhaps three stores meant for shopping in Doolin and one of them was a wool shop. It was 90 degrees – thus the very idea of wool shopping was abhorrent. The chocolate shop, on the other hand, was awarded our business and we spend an inordinate amount of time in there because quite simply, there was nothing else to do.

Sign Reads: Dangerous for Bathing Beyond this Point

Sign Reads: Dangerous for Bathing Beyond this Point

Moo.  That's Gaelic for Moo.

Moo. That’s Gaelic for Moo.

We eventually wandered our way down a pretty long road to get to the boat docks and finally, our boat came. First we visited the Aran Islands where we had the best lunch of our entire lives.

Best Lunch Ever

Best Lunch Ever

We took a horse and buggy tour of the Island and again, attempted to amuse ourselves with the rest of our time by shopping. If you guessed that there was really no shopping, you’d be correct. The local population of that island is about 300 people, give or take five. One man was selling pieces of slate on which he hand-carved Gaelic symbols and letters. He was quite popular with the 300 citizens and managed to do a tidy business as all the tourists with money burning a hole in their pockets emptied them into his ready hands.

View from Aran Island

View from Aran Island

Shipwreck on the Island

Shipwreck on the Island

Our Pony, Jack

Our Pony, Jack

See the rocks in the field?

See the rocks in the field?

The farming families who live here move the rocks from the field and build the paddocks.  Millions of rocks, hundreds of paddocks.

The farming families who live here move the rocks from the field and build the paddocks. Millions of rocks, hundreds of paddocks.

Just because it's pretty . . . .

Just because it’s pretty . . . .

Next we hopped back on the boat to visit the Cliffs. It was here, on this boat, that I blistered my nose so badly that the skin hardened into a protective covering like a cicada. I didn’t realize that was happening because of the wind and the beauty but when Woney said as I took off my sunglasses, “Wow, you look like a raccoon” I wised up.

I didn’t mention much about either of these jaunts because again, Ireland is just such a beautiful place that I’m going to let it speak for itself. I will tell you that the Cliffs are so massive that when you approach them from the water and you try to look up to see the top of them, you can’t. The sheer magnitude of them will make your breath catch in your throat and you’ll realize just how small you really are. Absolutely gorgeous. Woney and I just breathed it all in, as much as we could take.

Cliffs from a distance

Cliffs from a distance

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Free Standing Rock

Free Standing Rock

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Moher Rock

Moher Rock

Moher Rock - Every white dot is a Puffin.

Moher Rock – Every white dot is a Puffin.

Limp with all the beauty we had experienced, Woney and I drug ourselves back down that long road to our car and drug ourselves out of Doolin. We both made a half-hearted attempt at offering to walk the Cliffs with the other but I could already feel my skin beginning to puff up from the burn. Woney could see this for herself and so we made our way to Galway for the night. We were exhausted. Even if Hugh Jackman dressed in full Wolverine gear had streaked naked through our B&B I would not have noticed. (This might be a lie.) I was completely satiated. I could not take in anymore.

Doolin was assuredly my favorite place. The people. The views. The chocolate. The Cliffs. Oh, those Cliffs. I’m not sure I will ever get over them.

Next Stop: Westport!

Ireland

Ireland

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Doolin

We felt like we were somebody as we sat in the parlor after dinner reading our books and nibbling on excellent Butler’s chocolates, passing an evening in the way the royals do. It was such a lovely day. We went to bed that night sighing over our good fortune.

I’d love to tell you that our good fortune extended through the night but to do so would be a lie. Woney and I were cozy in our beds, snoozing away, dreaming in limericks in the middle of the night when out of nowhere, a blaring buzzing horn began to echo through the halls of the castle. Woney and I leapt out of bed, hearts racing, instantly alert. We frantically scrambled around for a moment, Woney tripped over her suitcase and faceplanted on the carpet, and we headed for the door.

An interesting point of note is that when in Ireland, you should become accustomed to using a real live skeleton key to lock and unlock every bedroom door in all B&Bs and Castle/Hotels. At night, you lock yourself into the room with the same skeleton key you used to unlock the door when checking in. This little nugget of information would have been useful to remember before we jammed our fingers into the locked doorframe and creatively spouted words that would make Madre blush as we tried to dutifully make our smoke alarm exit. It took us a moment, and after we calmed down we donned the fluffy castle robes left for us in the armoire, utilized our skeleton key and exited our room.

Perhaps it is because Americans are drama queens or perhaps everyone else lodging at the Castle/Hotel was out whooping it up at the pub at 2:00 a.m., but Woney and I were the only patrons to follow protocol for smoke alarm blarings. We wandered the dark, quiet halls in our snazzy, fluffy robes for a few minutes and then deciding that we were in no danger, headed back to bed.

The next morning brought another traditional Irish breakfast, this time with toast, and I made my rounds saying good-bye to the castle. We lugged our ridiculous suitcases and my ridiculous pillow down three flights of stairs and out to the car to take off for another day of sight-seeing.

Jimmie and the Castle Dog

Jimmie and the Castle Dog

The Bunratty Castle was on our list. Before we could get there, we had to cross a body of water, and that meant a ferry ride. Woney drove our tiny little car onto the ferry, grabbed a hoodie and made for the top of the ferry. I think we both just wanted an excuse to wear a hoodie more than anything but for a few minutes, we saw Ireland from the middle of the water. Awesome. Of course I don’t have a picture because I am a moron.

Our Mini Car

Our Mini Car

At this point, I’d like you to remember how I alluded to some foreshadowing in one of my earlier Ireland posts. I’d like you to recall the mentions I’ve made re: our getting lost. Oh. My. God. You guys, I am embarrassed to even tell you this, but despite our having specific directions on how to find the Bunratty Castle from the ferry, we got lost. “It’s right next to Durty Nellie’s,” everyone said. “Right next door. Can’t miss it.” Well, miss it we did, at least four times. Finally we just parked at Durty Nellie’s and said, “We’ll go in and ask.” Thank the Lord we didn’t because we would have been laughed right out of the joint.

The Bunratty Castle is, quite literally, right next to Durty Nellie’s. They share a parking lot. Our problem, see, was that there was a giant hedge between the two and Woney and I never dreamed that a hedge would hide the castle. We are Philistines. Good for us that we saw it as we entered the parking lot, and so we made our way sheepishly to the castle.

Bunratty Castle

Bunratty Castle

The castle was nice. Very authentic. Kind of full of rocks and stones and drafts. We traipsed up and down the spiral staircases and checked out the bedrooms and narrow windows but honestly, Woney and I were castled out. We attemped a few “oohs” and some “aahs”. At best they were halfhearted. Lunch, on the other hand, was of great interest to us and so we made our way back to Durty Nellie’s for the absolute best toasted cheese and ham sandwich I have ever had or ever hope to have again. I’m very sorry that experience is over.

After Bunratty, we headed for Doolin. The next day would bring our tour of the Cliffs of Moher so taking a scenic leisurely drive was of interest as we really had nothing better to do. We simply followed signs to Doolin, having decided that Gwendolyn was an idiot, and remember how I alluded to some foreshadowing in one of my earlier Ireland posts? I’d like you to recall the mentions I’ve made re: our getting lost. Oh. My. God. I’m not sure how we did it but Woney and I ended up in the middle of the back of beyond. Twice. We were on roads that were closed. We were on roads that did not exist. We were on roads that just followed a never-ending circle. Finally we broke down and asked Gwendolyn for help and do you know what she did to us? Took us into people’s driveways. Took us on bicycle paths not meant for cars. She took us around the same road we had already been on. Twice. It was exhausting. I wish we had a Map My Run feature on at the time because I’ll bet the aerial view was ridiculous, like a corn maze except worse.

Eventually we topped a hill in the middle of BFE and Woney said, “I know where we are.” How she did that I will never know being as how neither of us had ever been to Ireland before, but sure enough we drove down the hill and straight into Doolin.

View from the top of our hill

View from the top of our hill

Here ends the exciting part of my story. Doolin is a very boring town full of very nice people but that’s it as far at the town goes. There’s no shopping. There’s a pub or two but nothing super exciting. I’d like to tell great stories about how wonderful the people were and aside from our bartender, Carmel, and her friend Aine, I can’t. Carmel was fabulous to Woney when Woney got her foot stuck in some tar on the super boring road in the super boring town and for that Woney is forever grateful. I could wax poetic about Carmel all day, really, but seriously, this town was D-E-A-D. I think all their energy goes into the Cliffs and the Cliffs alone.

Woney's foot that got stuck in tar, soaking in a Coke bath (which incidentally, did not help)

Woney’s foot that got stuck in tar, soaking in a Coke bath (which incidentally, did not help)

We checked in to our B&B for the night and for once got a room on the first floor. I’m sad to report that again, here ends the exciting part of my story. This B&B was the most impersonal, institutional, dreary B&B we had encountered thus far. Our room was so tiny that we both could not stand at once. Everything echoed in the room and down the hall as there was no carpet, no rug, no soft surface of any sort, including the proprietor who was minus a personality. After we had some dinner and drinks with Carmel and Aine, Woney and I were tired and scooched into our tiny twin beds. I heard another couple come in the front door of the B&B, thump down the hall, have a conversation, and my last thought before I drifted off to sleep in that echo-y loud no-privacy B&B was, “Please, God, don’t let them have sex. We’ll hear it ALL and I just can’t take that.”

Our Mini Room

Our Mini Room

Next Stop: Galway!

Tralee

Sam was the king of the Maranatha House, you could tell, and no matter how heavy the suitcase or how ridiculous the pillow, Sam parked himself right in the doorway, right under your feet, to ensure that he got at least a moderate pat as you walked by. What a lovely place . . . .

The next morning, true to form, the owner of the Maranatha house served up a traditional Irish breakfast with but one deviation. We had no toast. NO TOAST! It was a rough morning, leaving the pretty, pretty house and with no toast to boot.

Woney and I lugged our ridiculous suitcases and my ridiculous pillow down the Barbie staircase, across Sam’s napping place in the middle of the doorway and loaded up our car. We noticed as we were leaving that the other patrons of the Maranatha house, mostly Americans, seemed to be having trouble with the narrow roads in Ireland like we were. Like our car, most of their rentals had some scratchy marks alongside the passenger door but unlike us, they had had some run ins with what appeared to be barbed wire. Big holes dotted their doors and trim pieces were missing left and right. It was with great pride in our (Woney’s) driving abilities that we drove off, ready for the sight-seeing we had planned.

This will not surprise you, but Katherine from the Mena House had given us some tips for this day as well. We were driving to Tralee to stay in a castle for the night (and let me add here: Castle, yay!). The Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive on the way to Tralee, well known for its gorgeous views but less known for its awful traffic and toothpick hairpin roads. Katherine instructed us to head for the Dingle Peninsula instead, claiming that it was a better, less harrowing drive with views that rivaled and even surpassed those across the Ring of Kerry. When I get to that point, I will most likely not write much. I will most likely just post a bunch of pictures. You’ll see why.

This also will not surprise you, but Woney and I got lost on our way to the Dingle Peninsula. On our way to getting lost, we ran across a sign that read: Toy Soldier Museum Ahead. We continued to run across signs for this museum every time Gwendolyn took us on the wrong path (bitch), and we ultimately decided that we needed to visit this Toy Soldier Museum. Plus we had to pee and they offered a bathroom on one of the signs. Y’all, this was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done/seen in my life. Woney and I wandered around this concrete building completely in awe, watching these people cast all those tiny metal figures you see in your traditional Toy Soldier Museums. We watched a lady hand paint some of them. We even made our own and while we were proud of them, our talents extended nowhere near theirs. Woney and I will never be master Toy Soldier Museum employees is what I’m saying. Man, that was fun.

Tralee 2

Hand-crafted Chess Set

Hand-crafted Chess Set

We got back on the road, on our way to getting lost again, and eventually found ourselves driving along the Dingle Peninsula. Breathtaking is not a word that even comes close to describing these views. Wait, here you are:

Dingle 41

Dingle 38

Dingle 32

Dingle 40

Dingle 17

Dingle 24

dingle 15

Dingle 22

Dingle 14

Dingle 11

Dingle 28

By the time we drove it all, Woney and I were completely saturated with beauty. We could not take in another sight. Every few feet boasted a scenic overlook and we stopped at every single one of them. There’s not a solitary hill crest or rock or ocean wave that is not documented at least three different ways on our cameras. Also, sheep.

Isn’t that gorgeous? By far, this was my favorite thing we had done. If you ever go, the West Coast is the area you want, I’m certain of it.

Our final destination for the night was the Ballyseede Castle. Getting lost was becoming an art form for us – we pulled an illegal u-turn more than once to get to this place, but again, as we drove down the long drive and the castle came into view, in our breath caught in our throats. It was beautiful. The interior was beautiful. Our bedroom was beautiful. The grounds were beautiful. The dinner was beautiful. We felt like we were somebody as we sat in the parlor after dinner reading our books and nibbling on excellent Butler’s chocolates, passing an evening in the way the royals do. It was such a lovely day. We went to bed that night, sighing over our good fortune.

Tralee

Tralee 16

Tralee 8

Next Stop: Doolin!

Blarney

Kilkenny was exactly the Ireland we wanted. That was what we went to do and see. It was absolutely perfect and I will go back . . . . .

Woney and I, having gotten squiffy the night before, enjoyed a restful slumber at the Mena House and then trooped downstairs for breakfast. Planning all our stays in Bed and Breakfasts was an excellent idea, I thought to myself. Katherine, the absolute most helpful person I have met to date, was also an excellent cook. She offered us the full Irish breakfast (with toast!) and while we turned up our noses at the blood sausage, we accepted the rest.

During our planning conversation the day before, Katherine insisted that we visit the Rock of Cashel. In all of our researching we had never heard of such a thing, but Woney and I are adventurous if nothing else, and Katherine had already proven herself knowledgeable. We said our good-byes and set off to see this lump of limestone that was something akin to the famous Giant Ball of Yarn, at least in my head.

You guys, I will probably say this a lot, but I’m telling you, if you get the chance to see the Rock of Cashel, go. From a distance, it’s a modest-looking stone building resembling a church in serious ill repair. Up close, that’s exactly what it is. The stonework, however, dates back to the 12th century in places, and the history there is incredibly rich. The Rock sits atop a hill overlooking some of the most gorgeous Irish scenery you’ll ever see. Grave markers surround the area, and stone walls are everywhere. It felt peaceful and more importantly, it felt chilly and foggy and still – exactly what we wanted. The moment we stepped out of the car, Woney and I looked at each other and said, “We need hoodies!”

Cashel

Cashel

View from Cashel

View from Cashel

I wish I were a better photographer. My pictures don’t do it justice.

When our tour was sadly complete, Woney and I set off for our next adventure, still talking about that Rock. We were looking forward to good things, though, as Blarney Castle was next. Item two on Woney’s bucket list was kissing the Blarney Stone, something that I had no interest in doing.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

Also Blarney Castle

Also Blarney Castle

“So, you’ll kiss the Blarney Stone, won’t you” people asked me before I left the States.

“Naw,” I said. “The locals pee on that.” I was certain it was true.

“But, Jimmie,” Woney said, exasperated, “it’s the Blarney Stone. You can’t come to Ireland and not kiss the Blarney Stone!”

“Naw,” I reiterated. “It’s been urinated upon. I will pass.”

And pass I did, although I did take the hour or so to climb the four stories of spiral, stone, incredibly narrow and slippery stairs to get to the actual kissing point. That I Highly Recommend unless you are afraid of heights, afraid of close spaces or it’s raining. Blarney was a beautiful castle, and truly one of the most authentic ones we saw, but again, I will say that the heart of this city is the people. When you spend an hour in line with strangers climbing slightly treacherous stairs to put your lips on a rock upon which someone has peed, you are no longer strangers.

Kissing the Stone

Kissing the Stone

Woney did the deed after layering on several coats of lip goo to protect her lips from the urine, and I took pictures. Getting down the stairs was a much quicker and also much scarier process as we really had no one to block our fall if the stairs proved too slippery. We walked out of there content, though, and safe and ready for our next adventure. We also walked out of there slightly sweaty. The gloom and the chill had long vanished, replaced by the sun and its heat.

View from the Top of Blarney

View from the Top of Blarney

The Jameson Distillery was the third and last item on Woney’s bucket list and since we were close, off we drove. We made a slight unexpected detour in Cork and both promptly decided that we were not fans. If I never go back to Cork, I will be alright. Jameson is near Cork in Middleton which I’m sure is a lovely city, but this being probably the hardest driving day we had, we didn’t notice much about it. And being that Woney and I both took the Jameson Master Taster lesson, we didn’t much notice it when we left either. Kidding! I’m kidding! We only had three watered-down, very weak shots. Casey, again, that shot was for you. Cheers!

This tour was fun and I do Highly Recommend it. I also Highly Recommend shopping in the gift shop (hello, Dammit Todd). Jameson gifts are perfect for those friends that you missed purchasing chocolates for at Butler’s.

I Bought this for Dammit Todd, Not Really

I Bought this for Dammit Todd, Not Really

I alluded earlier to an unexpected drive through Cork. I wish I could allude to the multiple other unexpected drives through cities but honestly, Woney and I got lost so many times that day, I couldn’t even tell you where we were. On our way to the B & B for the night, the Maranatha House, we made such a number of wrong turns it bordered on ridiculous. Our GPS director, whom I shall call Gwendolyn, was beyond frustrated with us. “At the roundabout, take the third exit to somethingorother and continue straight for .7 kilometers” was a standard speech. Gwendolyn was kind of a bitch. She was relentless and had no idea where we were either.

We did make our way to the Maranatha House but not before we questioned our every step and turn. The more tractors we met on the road, the more remote we realized this house to be. Exhausted and frustrated, we finally arrived at the Maranatha sign. All of that exhaustion and frustration instantly disappeared as we rounded the bend and caught sight of the house. Oh, it was beautiful, inside and out! Every room was decorated like a fairy tale: swags of heavy velvet over the windows, swaths of gauze surrounding the beds, round mattresses with pink heart-shaped pillows. Woney and I were given a choice of the rooms and we ran back and forth across the hall, desperate to pick the best one. We settled on one finally and moved in for the night. I loved the excess of it, the pinkness of it and it wasn’t until I woke up out of a dead sleep that I realized what the house reminded me of – Barbie’s Dream House! Our hostess must have had her own fantasy as a child and was lucky enough to make it a reality. Perfect house for honeymooners and perfect area, too, as the only things of note in that area are the pretty bedrooms with the fancy beds, and everyone knows that’s all honeymooners care about anyway.

Woney's Bed

Woney’s Bed

My Bed

My Bed

One last mention about lovely things to see: Sam. Look at that face.

Sam.  A Good Dog.

Sam. A Good Dog.

Sam was the king of the Maranatha House, you could tell, and no matter how heavy the suitcase or how ridiculous the pillow, Sam parked himself right in the doorway, right under your feet, to ensure that he got at least a moderate pat as you walked by. What a lovely place . . . .

Next stop: Tralee!

Kilkenny

. . . . . but after being awake for 40 hours, sweating like pigs right through our clothes, and walking a total of about 8 miles in one day, we were dunzos. Slept like babies.

We left Dublin the next morning after our first experience with the traditional Irish breakfast. My gosh, they offer you a lot of food in that breakfast: assorted fruit juices, coffee, tea, yogurt, a variety of cereals, fried eggs, sausage, bacon, blood sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, fruit and toast. Toast! Man, I forgot how much I like toast. The last time I bought bread was 2008, I think, so I was particularly enamored of the toast.

We packed up our tiny little car and hit the road.

Let’s talk about the road and our car for a minute. We knew when renting our vehicle that we would get something tiny and something without an automatic transmission. Woney and I both were alright with that. We also knew that we had to maneuver the car on the opposite side of the road from the opposite side of the car. Woney and I both were alright with that as well (although in all fairness, I was doubly alright with that as she did all the driving and I only had to use the imaginary brake on the passenger side). What we did not realize was that while our car was roughly four feet wide, our lane on the road was only roughly four feet one inch wide. Those were the main roads. On the back roads, of which we took many, the road was merely six feet wide. We were ecstatic about that until we realized that the six-foot-wide road was intended to hold two lanes, for two cars. Also, Ireland doesn’t believe in shoulders per se, but more in giant walled structures and vicious shrubbery literally right next to the yellow line. Really, let’s just say there was no yellow line. It was four feet one inch of road per car and then wall. Or, you know, a 400 foot drop off into an abyss. Before the trip was done, I was intimately familiar will all the roadside shrubbery in Ireland.

So Woney and I took off for Kilkenny on those narrow roads. During that drive, I realized just how big America is. I can see it on paper, of course, but everything here is just enormous compared to so many other places in the world. Driving it really drove it home for me. (That was a terrible pun and completely unintentional.) Anyway, in short order we arrived in Kilkenny and found our Bed and Breakfast. Let me put in a kudos here for Mena House. It was utterly charming and the proprietor, Katherine, was the absolute most helpful person I have met to date. Without Katherine, we would have missed so many truly wonderful things on our trip. Highly Recommend Mena House.

Kilkenny 9

Katherine instructed us to walk into town, have a drink at the café on the river, visit the castle, and then make our way to two pubs. We did just that. The drink by the river was glorious. Woney and I took probably 40 pictures of the scenery around us. We could see the Kilkenny castle in the distance and I was pretty stoked about it. A castle! We have nothing that old in America. America was just getting started around the time those castles were getting broken in. We are babies over here. Anyway, we wandered through the little city and into the castle to discover that it was . . . neat. I guess that’s really all I can say about it other than to say it was little boring. They have renovated it only as far back as the Victorian era when a family lived in it so while parts of it felt really authentic, it was only authentic back to the 1800s. Still, it was a nice visit.

Kilkeny 25

The true heart of Kilkenny is in the people, though. That was the best part of this city. Based on Katherine’s suggestion, after the castle we walked straight to Kytelers for a tasty beverage. I already knew that Guinness was not for me so as we plopped down on the barstool, I said to Martin, our bartender, “I’ll have whatever cider you have”. And just like that I got a new tasty beverage. Yerm.

Kilkenny 38

Let’s talk about Martin for a moment. He was the exact sort of bartender for which we were looking, in the exact sort of pub for which we were looking. He was absolutely perfect. We spent the better part of the afternoon hanging out with him and Adam, who is only 19 and is going to school to learn how to create video games and who has promised to develop a character with giant hair and giant hoots and a tiny waist named Jimmie. I love Adam.

Kilkenny 28

Martin entertained us for hours. I’m not sorry to say that I was rather inebriated but even if I hadn’t been, I would have loved Martin. He filled all the water glasses with a hose and made fun of Irish country music. “No one ever writes a song about the bumper potato crop,” he said. I miss Martin. Highly Recommend Kytelers and Martin.

Martin

Martin

Eventually we wandered off to the next pub, promising a drink to Martin if he found us. Matt the Millers was the next stop and I enjoyed that pub just as much as Kytelers. “I’ll have a Bulmers,” I said expertly to Shane as I plopped on the barstool. Let’s talk about Shane. What a hottie he was! I took pictures of him cleaning stuff all night and promised him that if he came to America all my friends would find him highly attractive with that dish towel in his hand. Something about a man who cleans . . . . Highly Recommend Matt the Millers and Shane.

Kilkenny 21

Shane

Shane

By this point, Woney and I had had a lot to drink. A lot. I was feeling particularly fond of everyone in the entire city but after some time, it seemed that two men in particular were quite fond of us. This is Paul.

Woney and Paul

Woney and Paul

Isn’t he lovely? He and Woney spent hours chatting on the barstools and when we finally wandered off to find food, Paul escorted us safely. He took turns holding our hands, mostly because I kept stopping to talk to everyone. I loved those people just so much. I loved Paul. Paul loved Woney. I loved Woney. I loved Shane. I loved Martin. And Albert loved me.

Jimmie and Albert

Jimmie and Albert

Sigh. When Albert told me that I had a nice body and he would love to escort me home, Woney disengaged us from everyone and we meandered to Mena House.

Kilkenny 36

Kilkenny was exactly the Ireland we wanted. That was what we went to do and see. It was absolutely perfect and I will go back. I will also find Martin and Shane and treat them to a tasty beverage of their own. See you soon, boys!

Next stop: Blarney!

Dublin

. . . . . After a long conversation she said, “Sigh. You sound just like Jessica Simpson. I love it.”

And that shut me up for the rest of the flight.

Mostly.

Eventually, Woney and I arrived in Dublin. I won’t give you the gritty details of that entire day because it was the longest day in the history of days. I will, however, tell you about all the stuff we did there because it was fun. Mostly.

Lunch – In an effort to attempt sleeping on the plane, I turned down every food offer the airline made. I missed the memo on the ridiculous amount of time it would take to get our bags, get our car, drive to the hotel and not check in, so by the time we were at a stopping point, I could have eaten a dead armadillo raw, still in its shell. We found a pub in short order and experienced our first culinary adventure in Ireland which consisted mostly of gravy. It was fantastic!

Dublin 2

The Guinness Brewery – This was one of three items on Woney’s bucket list. We were assured by the concierge at our hotel (into which we could not check in) that the brewery was just a few short blocks away. This assurance was false. We walked endlessly for blocks and blocks and were slightly lost in a foreign country (pay attention – this is called foreshadowing). We did find it, though, by asking directions more than once although I’m pretty sure Woney would have sniffed it out eventually. It was a fabulous tour. Six floors of beer history, production, games, etc., all housed in a giant pint glass structure. Woney and I opted for the Master Pour section of the tour and once Woney poured her Guinness, the instructor queried “Have you done this before?”

Woney said, “No, I just drink a lot of Guinness.”

Before I ever left the states, I promised a friend that I would drink a pint of Guinness in his honor. I truly meant it. And then I took a swig of Woney’s Guinness. Call me a Philistine but no thank you. Casey, that swig was your Guinness. I raised that toast to you. And then I called it done. Barf.

Dublin 4

Butler’s Chocolate Experience – This was not on our bucket list but man, this was fun. A few months ago as we were researching stuff to do in Ireland, we booked the tour for this one. It seemed interesting and you know . . . chocolate. It wasn’t until we were well into the tour that Woney and I realized we were two of only four adults, and that all the rest of the guests were children. Huh. The tour included a lot of samples, though, so we weren’t too upset about that.

Another part of the experience was the opportunity to decorate a piece of chocolate. I was expecting a delicate truffle with miniscule piping bags full of muted pastel icings – a “grown up” experience. Instead we got these:

Dublin 6

Woney and I and all the children donned our hair nets and lab coats and set to work, tongues poking out in concentration. After some concerted effort, my bear looked like this. I call her Wilhelmina.

Dublin 8

And this is Woney’s creation, Lulu. She’s a little slutty. We didn’t let the children get a look at her. Innocent eyes, you know.

Dublin 9

The Church Bar – This is a must see if you ever make it to Dublin. We asked one of our cabbies about a good local place we should visit for dinner, and this was his recommendation. It’s an old Catholic church turned into a bar, which feels slightly sacrilegious, but the food was traditional and delicious. Highly recommend.

Church Bar

Church Bar

Sweating – This was the unexpected portion of our trip. Woney and I were so proud of our full suitcases and the clothes that we packed. I was particularly fond of a new hoodie I recently acquired that I couldn’t wait to wear. It will be February before it’s chilly enough to wear it in Tennessee. Anyway, it was with some dismay that Woney and I received the news about the record high temperatures in Ireland. What compounded the dismay was learning that our hotel was booked at capacity for the night and while we would be allowed to check in, it would be much, much later. Please understand that we had sweated a whole lot in NYC and then we sweated on the plane for a good 8 hours. Furthermore, we sweated in Dublin doing all that walking and getting lost. We did all of that wearing the same set of clothes. I forgot to tell you this last time, but in our freak show rushing around trying to get a cab, my super cute maxi dress got caught up in the escalator stairs, nearly rendering me nude for the cab ride. I saved it, though, with only a few tears and grease stains which now permanently decorate the bottom hem of my dress. What I’m saying is, not only did I look slightly homeless, but I also probably smelled really bad.

We did eventually get checked into the hotel and took the most amazing showers of our lives. Plumbing in Ireland is a bit different than what we are used to, so getting the water to come on was a challenge. Electricity is also a bit different, so turning on the lights was also a challenge. We completely embarrassed ourselves by calling the front desk to ask how the lamps worked.

It was with great pleasure that Woney and I went to bed that night. I have a sneaking suspicion that the beds we utilized would be disgustingly uncomfortable had we had them any other night, but after being awake for 40 hours, sweating like pigs right through our clothes, and walking a total of about 8 miles in one day, we were dunzos. Slept like babies.

Dublin 16

Dublin 14

Next stop: Kilkenny!